I've got $400 month rent to pay/and I can't find a dollar/Let me tell you/Time tough/Everything is out of sight, so hard/Time tough/Everything is going higher and higher.
-- Toots Hibbert, "Time Tough," by Toots & the Maytals
I had an opportunity to chat with popular local session drummer Matt Chamberlain last week for a story in tomorrow's paper (more blogging on this conversation to come). I was picking his brain about his sessions with Fiona Apple, The Wallflowers, David Bowie, etc. But, one of the things he told me stuck with me. He said that after he played drums for Saturday Night Live for a season in the early 90s, he moved back to Seattle because he was looking for a cheap place to live where he could work part-time, much on Thai food, and play his music. He split a place in Ballad ($200 each), started playing gigs, and his career quickly took off. With rents today, he told me he felt for the local musicians trying to get started now.
Escalating rents (gentrification) and its effect on artists isn't a new phenomenon by any means (just last week, The Moondoggies told me half the band has moved to Everett to save money for touring) but I was reminded of Chamberlain's remarks yesterday while having lunch with my little brother, a musician, who recently moved to town and has been a bit frustrated in his search for an affordable room to call home/studio. He mentioned that he'd been listening to a lot of Toot & the Maytals lately, and that the track, "Time Tough," in particular, spoke to his situation.
High rent? Saving money for touring? Toots feels ya, fellas.